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November 05, 1998 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-05

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21 State of the Arts

"You know, the times were very turbu-
lent - they were also very exciting
and sort of vivid," Kasdan (here pic-
tured in his yearbook photo from
1970) told the Daily last month.
"My college experience was great at
Michigan - a great time. And it was
a great time to be at Michigan."
Coutesy of the Mi,:iganensan

Get Involved in the

BIG CHILL
Continued from Page 2B
recognized a change that took place in
Ann Arbor during the late 1960s, Beaver
said, including a growing openness about
sexuality and people's emotional lives.
The University's ubiquitous role is crucial
to the movie, he said.
"You can only see it as a kind of
Michigan film," Beaver said. Its
University legacy would be even more
prominent if one original scene had been
included - "a flashback scene that was
supposedly taking place in the Oakland
Street area," Beaver said. "It would have
even more defined this film as the quin-
tessential University of Michigan film."
Fox was present during the scene's
Atlanta filming. She said crew members
found a residence that "really did look like
an Ann Arbor house," and remembers a
nervous Kevin Costner pacing back and
forth in an old leather jacket, preparing for
a scene that would never be shown.
"I still drive by that house sometimes
and look at it," Fox said.
As a student, Kasdan lived in East
Quad and won several Hopwood Awards
for his creative writing. Kasdan will speak
at the Hopwood ceremony on April 20,
1999, and his wife Meg currently sits on
the LSA dean's visiting committee.
Barbara Benedek co-wrote the movie's
Academy Award-nominated screenplay
with Kasdan. She said Kasdan
approached her with specific ideas about
the movie's storyline following his atten-
dance at the funeral of a contemporary.
"He knew the scenes and the general
framework' said Benedek, who attended
New York University. "We got together
and we talked for a few days, and talked
about anything that interested us and

taped the conversation. We had 50 or 60
pages of transcript"
They let these conversations sit for
about a year, Benedek said, before reunit-
ing to write the script. She described writ-
ing the movie as an "exhilarating" creative
experience, one that remains a high point
in her career.
Although Roger Rapoport never met
Kasdan when he was a student here,
Rapoport said the movie encapsulated the
generation's experiences.
"Obviously, the friendships were the
centerpiece of everybody's college expe-
rience, probably just as important as the
education you get," Rapoport said. "But
the backdrop was a little more dramatic, I
think, because of the political events of
the time. A lot of people felt they had
gone through a lot together. I wouldn't
call it an accident of timing, but the tim-
ing was rather significant."
After graduating from the University in
1968, Rapoport co-authored "Is the
Library Burning?", a book looking at stu-
dent activism. An article Rapoport wrote
for The Michigan Daily about the first
teach-in of the '60s is included in a recent
Library of America anthology of the best
reporting of the Vietnam War.
Being in Ann Arbor during what he
termed "the last big war" shaped
Rapoport's perspectives of the world.
"You felt like you were an eyewitness in
history about all the key things that were
going on," he said. "You really were feel-
ing the pulse closer as a student."
But the changes that came with gradu-
ation proved jolting.
"This was a group that was very politi-
cized and had an exaggerated sense of
their potential when they were in col-
lege," Kasdan said of the film's charac-
ters. "When they went out in the world,

they found that it was very difficult."
Broder said the issues that drove this
group of friends in their youth still linger
today. "I can say when we get together,
when this group ... gets together, that's
still a topic. That's not the only topic, but
a lot of our conversations are clearly
framed by that shared experience."
Some idealism persists in this genera-
tion, Benedek said. But, many have lost
track of the values that guided them in
younger days. Benedek attributed much
of this to the demands of parenthood.
"I guess I really became chilled," she
said. "We're thoroughly chilled. People
became parents and their children are
now at an age when they could conceiv-
ably be rebelling. It makes you evaluate
the choices you made"
But recently, Fox watched the movie
with her 13- and 18-year-old sons, noting
that she forgot the prominence of sex and
drugs in the film. One son was particular-
ly surprised. "He looked at me really hor-
rified and said, 'That was your group?"'
A couple days later, he came back to
Fox, inquisitive and reflective about the
'60s idealism. "He felt a real loss. That
that was something missing in his life,"
she said.
For all the trauma the accompanied the
tumult of the 1960s and the disillusion-
ment that followed, Kasdan still remem-
bers his experiences fondly. "You know,
the times were very turbulent - they
were also very exciting and sort of vivid,"
he said. "My college experience was
great at Michigan - a great time. And it
was a great time to be at Michigan."
And thanks to "The Big Chill,"
Kasdan's great time - and all the ques-
tions that lingered - are immortalized.
- Daily Arts Writer Matthew Barrett
contributed to this report.

On the afternoon of Oct. 15, I
opened the New York Times to the
Op-Ed page to discover a brilliant
piece by Arthur Miller about the
causes and effects of the
Clinton/Lewinsky fiasco. In his
Times contribution, Miller
addressed the notion that the recent
right-wing witch hunt that has begun
in Washington is not unlike the
witch trials conducted in the Salem
of yesteryear.
Recall, if you will, dear reader,
the year 1952, when Miller was
called before the House Committee
on Un-American Activities by Joe
"Hands in his Pants" McCarthy to .
disclose private and personal details
about his political views. While
McCarthy was busy stroking his
own moral ego, Miller set tactly to
work to gain a higher ground. His
artistic response to McCarthy's fas-
cism resulted in "The Crucible" - a
play which not only shoved
McCarthy into his own immoral cor-
ner, it is one that could have tempt-
ed McCarthy's possible hidden
desire for Puritan women dressed in
black. Imagine a sexually repressed
McCarthy leaving the Martin Beck
Theater in order to spend a few qual-

ity moments by his lonesome in the
theater's balcony men's room. Now
that's showbiz.
In his Op-Ed piece, Miller states:
"What is very different now is the
public reaction ... Not often does
one sinner raise so many so quickly
out of their moral slumber." In a
country where
60 percent of
the male popu-
lation engages
in extra-mari-
tal affairs, the
appalled reac-
tion of society
to Clinton's
r r dirty drawers
seems morally
inconsistent.
Christopher TkacZyk But, as Miller
Daily Arts Editor explained, the
reaction in
Salem does not parallel Witch Hunt
'98. Congress' seeking of impeach-
ment hearings has set this country,
back a good 40 years. Not only are
the Congressional leaders of this
country probing the affair, the public
is being strongly influenced by a
unanimous media that has plagued
Clinton since the beginning accusa-

tions. "This did not happen in
Salem, where the members of the
clergy, who were also the leaders of
the community, were strangers to
mercy and indeed to common sense,
and helped drive the public into a
lethal panic," Miller wrote.
Based on true events, "The
Crucible" tells the story of a single
girl whose accusation of a sexual
affair with a respected leader of
society mounts a mass panic within
the small Salem community. Sound
familiar?
By the closing curtain of "The
Crucible," a town is left raped of all
moral righteousness. More than a
handful of women and one man are
dead - all as a result of the doings
of one young woman.
The moral objective of the citi-
zens of Salem is the factor which
plagues the need for satisfaction of
justice, the same moral belt that has
kept Clinton strapped to our public
whipping post.
It is Miller's belief that our reac-
tion to Clinton's hallway shenani-
gans and Salem's downfall are a
result of unspoken sexual desires.
"There is ... a parallel in the sexual
element underlying each phenome-

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non. Witch hunts are always
by women's horrifying s
awakened by the superstud,'
confounded.
So ... where does this 1
today? In a society led by su
ly moral and intelligent
what has caused such a viole
tion to a quite minimal tryst
Miller provides a possible
to these questions when h
that "a witch hunt isn't the
the public won't join in." V
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